The most recent county-wide tax reappraisal was relatively non-controversial. Compared to the uproar that occurred in 2013, the 2017 reappraisal has been well received. Overall, the county’s home values increased. About 70 percent of homes in Forsyth County increased in value and 30 percent of homes decreased in value. But the 2017 tax reappraisal was more bad news for East Winston.
Winston’s majority-minority section of town, once again saw home values decline. East Winston residents are once again asking why their homes are declining in value when most other parts of Winston-Salem, Forsyth County are seeing rising home prices.
2013’s reappraisal was the first county-wide reappraisal since the housing crash of 2008. County-wide values dipped, but home values in East Winston plummeted. After public meetings and appeals-some home values were restored, but many weren’t. (For a thorough examination of the 2013 tax reappraisal, read Jordan Green and Chad Nance’s Equity and Appraisals, Part I and Part II.)
So even though this year’s tax reappraisal isn’t the catastrophe that 2013’s was, it’s bad news for a community that is looking for its home values to rebound. Lots of hard-working folks in East Winston are tired of putting money into their homes only to see the values of their homes decrease.
Council members representing East Winton’s wards appealed to the county to reconsider their tax valuation formula but to no avail. Council Member Montgomery has argued that the county only considers home sales, they aren’t considering the price of neighborhood rents. Many residents of East Winston feel like their neighborhoods are being targeted for gentrification.
Individual developers are a huge part of East Winston’s problems. Absentee landlords buy up houses on the cheap and then rent them out, with little regard for the effect that they have on the community. The real danger to East Winston comes from well-funded developers who are capable of redeveloping entire city blocks. Neighborhoods bordering the Innovation Quarter are particularly vulnerable to gentrification.
After decades neglect, the market is East Winston’s enemy at this point. Instead of protesting with the county tax assessor, council members need to do more to stabilize home prices in East Winston. A citizen’s committee should be set up to address the wealth gap between East Winston and the rest of the city.
Measures large and small should be studied. How are other cities addressing the wealth gap between their white and non-white neighborhoods? How can we best adopt measures that worked in other cities here in Winston? East Winston should be the city’s highest priority. If East Winston isn’t stabilized today, it may erupt tomorrow. East Winston has been ignored and given mere lip service.